The contribution of knowledge management to the managerial process of positioning global load control for strategic effectiveness
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
Global Load Control (GLC) is a three-centre network with offices in Cape Town (South Africa), Brno (Czech Republic) and Istanbul (Turkey) that provides Weight&Balance services to its parent company, Lufthansa, and other airlines. The strategic direction of GLC includes growth in terms of expanding its customer base and target market as well as diversification into other services in the field of Ground Operations. Many of the airlines are re-evaluating their business model and service offering in order to increase their profitability and competitiveness in an industry that is going through a period of transformation. Historically, the industry has seen very small profit margins, which are expected to remain under immense pressure due to difficult macroeconomic conditions and strong competition. The human capital of GLC and the knowledge that exists within the organisation were identified as strategic assets during the strategy process. The shift towards a knowledge-driven economy and the importance of the ´knowledge worker´ has been acknowledged by scholars as well as the business community. Since then, ways to manage knowledge work and the productivity of the knowledge worker have received lots of attention. However, due to the contextual and subjective dimensions of knowledge, no blueprint exists for its successful implementation. The aim of the paper was to identify the contribution of knowledge management to the managerial process of positioning Global Load Control for strategic effectiveness. The research confirmed the growing recognition of the relevance of tacit knowledge as well as the importance of social capital to the organisational knowledge and intellectual capital, respectively. Important and relevant knowledge were found to be tacit and often lying in the action itself, which makes it difficult to codify and share with other employees. Strategic effectiveness of Global Load Control ultimately was found to be the ability to continuously support the customers in increasing their competitiveness, thereby creating strong ties with GLC as a business partner. This included the ability to maintain or increase its cost effectiveness and identifying new ways for the customer to gain an advantage. The research revealed that parts of the knowledge required for achieving this lie with the customer, which implied that they had to be integrated into the organisation´s knowledge base. Knowledge creation was found to be central in utilising GLC´s human capital to increase its intellectual capital. The importance of the social dimension, both internally and externally, was shown throughout the paper and found to be the linking element. Not ignoring the role and contribution of the physical infrastructure to the process of knowledge sharing, HR practices and policies play a vital role in creating enabling conditions for knowledge sharing and building of social capital, which are prerequisites for the creation of organisational knowledge and the development of GLC´s intellectual capital. Rather than being a stand-alone process, knowledge management is to be seen as a philosophy that provides valuable insights and gives guidance to the managerial processes of an organisation. When viewed as an integral part of the business, knowledge management can greatly contribute to positioning the organisation for strategic effectiveness. However, for this to happen, the subjective, dynamic and contextual nature of knowledge has to be acknowledged and the impact of factors such as organisational culture and learning styles be researched and integrated into the knowledge management strategy. The findings in this paper apply to the organisation researched only. However, it contributed to the body of knowledge by complementing the theoretical frameworks around knowledge management and intellectual capital with practical findings. It thus supports other organisations in identifying suitable research approaches and topics in their own organisation and allows academics to refine and question current concepts and thereby continue to develop our understanding of knowledge management.